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Brand new to quilting and I think I screwed up

Brand new to quilting and I think I screwed up

Old 11-13-2019, 11:13 AM
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Default Brand new to quilting and I think I screwed up

Hello folks,

As per the title, I am currently trying to complete my first ever quilting project. I probably set the bar too high to start, as I am making a throw sized quilt, rather than starting with placemats or something.

The issue I had relates to the actual quilting. My machine doesn't have a walking foot (it's an old hand-me-down from my mother) and I at first didn't think that would be too big of an issue if I was careful. Now that I've quilted approximately half of the quilt top, I am wondering if I should rip it all out. The reason is because even though I pinned all the layers together with of safety pins, I seem to have puckers and even a couple areas where the fabric folds over on itself, leaving a permanent wrinkle in the quilt top. The bottom looks fine.

I'm wondering if a more experienced quilter can tell me if I'm right about the problem probably being my lack of walking foot, and if my best course of action is to rip it all out and start over? I've found a fabric store that offers rentals of sewing machines that have walking feet, so I could go there and use their machines for a small hourly fee.

I hope that made sense, and thank everyone in advance for any advice! I'm hopefully going to have this done well enough to be a christmas present, fingers crossed...

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 01-28-2020 at 10:14 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:26 AM
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Hi and welcome to the board!
Pleats (where the fabric folds over on itself) and puckers are definitely the result of not having a walking foot. You can buy generic walking feet pretty inexpensively, probably cheaper than renting time on a shop machine. You just need to know if your sewing machine is high shank or low shank.

As far as ripping out what you have done, the puckers and pleats will not affect the quilt's performance, only its aesthetic appeal. Many of these offending puckers won't be noticeable after washing. If you do your first wash in hot water and dry in a dryer, the shrinkage will make lots of puckers like an antique quilt and camouflage the ones caused by the drag of no walking foot. Especially if you used a cotton batting and did not prewash your fabrics. Only you can make that decision if you can live with the quilt as is or it will make you unhappy every time you look at it. If the latter, definitely rip and requilt. One of my most favorite quilts and definitely most used quilts has a wicked bad pleat on the back but I don't notice it and it doesn't bother me so I never ripped out the quilting to fix it and probably never will.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:30 AM
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Well, for years I quilted on a vintage machine that could not lower it's feed dogs nor did it have a walking foot. There are others here who do marvelous things on vintage machines, but usually they lower their dogs or have a darning plate. With my vintage machine I couldn't do much more than straight grids or gentle curves like with an orange peel or clamshell design. I could get fancier going around the border, but it took me a couple of years of baby quilts to do that or to do up to king-sized (which I managed to do!).

Does your machine have a way to change the foot pressure? That might be a start.

I really like spray baste better than pins, and I'm going to try glue in the near future. When we say a lot of pins the general thing is to not be able to put your hand down without landing on a pin, or about 4", it takes hundreds. Again, I like spray baste better! But I tied my quilts when I started, and then I machine quilted with pins, and now I machine quilt with spray baste and when I can I try and get behind a long arm!

Edit: Forgot to mention that people tend to have more problems with the bottom/backing. Highly recommend using busy prints at first. Really bad pleats can simply be hand/invisible stitched down. Typically you want your back at least 2-4 inches larger than the top to account for shrinkage.

Last edited by Iceblossom; 11-13-2019 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:38 AM
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Thank you for the welcome, and the advice! In regards to a generic walking foot/feet, I was concerned that because the machine I'm using is rather old, generic feet might not fit on it. Am I overthinking things? I've only used a couple of machines so I'm really not sure how universal some features/parts are.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:44 AM
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Hey, welcome to quilting and to the mistakes we all make at first. Ask us how we know the solutions! .

And washing does cover many problems. You might want to just go with what you have, wash it, and then see if you really think anything needs to be ripped out.

Sometimes you can rip out just the part that is pleated and resew. Resewing in a different direction can help with smooth things over a bit too. What is your machine? You can buy a walking foot for almost any machine.

Otherwise, what everyone else said.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:46 AM
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Would you please tell us your machine? Someone here will probably know or know the resource to look it up.

For me, my vintage machine was a 1940s era (and I'm circa 1960) so was older than me. I never really looked for a walking foot because I had gotten good enough for me.

With my modern machine with a huge throat space I'm able to do a lot more than the 5-7" typical in older machines. Unfortunately for me, my good machine needs to go into the shop and so I'm using one of my backups, a very lightweight brother that I would never try quilting anything on without being in a table.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:53 AM
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Hello and welcome!

As others have suggested I would not rip out what you have done. Finish your throw then snuggle up under it!

Just count it as part of your quilting learning curve.

Looking forward to seeing photos of your future projects!
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:41 PM
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Welcome from Texas! I would not rip anything out. I would just go forward & finish it & wash it & enjoy the warmth it will bring you and also the memories of it being your first quilt. So glad you joined this quilting board. You will learn a lot here while on your quilting journey.
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:43 PM
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Welcome to the board! You've gotten some very good advice so far. I wouldn't rip it all out either.
Can you tell us what machine you have?

As for starting with a throw size I don't think that's a problem either. You sound like you're already on your way.
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:59 PM
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As someone already mentioned, if you are able to decrease the pressure on the presser foot, that might help. It worked for me.
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